Friday, January 16, 2009

An insight on some of my theological developments

On 1/10/09, I called into the Narrow Mind radio program and asked a question concerning the Watchtower's view of paradise earth. In case you are unaware, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that 144,000 "anointed" Christians will rule in heaven for all eternity, while the rest live on a paradise earth. But i've been talking to one Jehovah's Witness who doesn't believe this, but instead, believes that all Christians will inherit paradise earth. In other words, there are not two classes of Christians. And honestly, i'm not quite sure of where I stand on the location of the "one hope." But I thought that Gene's answer to this question was pretty insightful.

The whole reason i'm even bringing this up is to be open about some of the possible changes that might be happening to some pretty important theological issues. And its not that the location of the "one hope" is all that crucial to the main issue at hand, but it is relevant and consequential. To what theological issue am I speaking? The millennium and the covenants. You see, I have grown up believing in a premillennial rapture, a future anti-Christ, a 7 year tribulation, and all that. But ever since I embraced reformed theology, I have been regularly challenged in this area, which is causing me to take some very serious considerations on my current position.

But what does this have to do with Jehovah's Witnesses? As one who is regularly involved in apologetics, I am constantly reminded that consistency is extremely important. No matter how well you can argue your case on one theological issue; if it is inconsistent with your position, then it is a failed argument. I know i'm speaking broadly here, but I think most people would agree with that. And though one might consider eschatology (the study of "last things") a relatively minor issue, its certainly not irrelevant in apologetics. Let me give you an example.

How many books have you read that defend Christianity against the beliefs of the Watchtower? You may notice something; most, if not all, are written from a dispensational framework. And there is no way to get around this, if you are a dispensationalist. Your eschatology will determine how you engage Jehovah's Witnesses on certain points. Let's take the 144,000 for instance. If you are a dispensationalist, you are forced to interpret this text in some way to represent 144,000 "Billy Grahams" who are literal Jews, who will evangelize during the tribulation. And if you are discussing this text with a Jehovah's Witness, you are attempting to show him why this isn't in reference to a separate "heavenly class" who will rule in heaven for all eternity. Furthermore, if you are dispensationalist, you are forced to "get around" those biblical texts which seem to establish a paradise earth, which will exist for all eternity. In other words, you will go to heaven after the millennium is over. And the one who doesn't have their eschatology developed and can't be consistent with his other theological views, will find himself in some difficult situations when discussing these issues in depth with a Jehovah's Witness.

And this is exactly what is happening with me right now. And I suppose I can thank Jehovah's Witnesses for encouraging me in this, though they probably don't even know it. Its really forcing me to look at these areas that I may not otherwise look. And its forcing me to take my consistency very seriously, even on those "minor" issues. So if there are changes that are to be made, it may take some time. I have done almost no reading in what the "other" side has to say. The most reading i've done in this area are Tim LaHaye books, which include his commentary on Revelation, among other books. So I think its about time I boldly go into those areas of discomfort where I may be forced to say, "yep, I was wrong." But its also very exciting, because i'm not afraid of truth. I love truth, and want to believe it no matter what the consequences. Anyway, enough rambling on this. Besides, my studies may leave me to embrace dispensational theology even more strongly.

If you want to hear first-hand what i'm going through in this area, I think you will find my call into the Narrow Mind radio show to be interesting. And you won't have to fast forward too far, as i'm the first caller. Let me know what you think!

11 comments:

Cheryl Schatz said...

Our ministry partner, Lorri MacGregor who was a JW for 15 years has done some very helpful teaching for those who encounter Jehovah's Witnesses and are dealing with the paradise earth issue. One of her talks is called The New Heavens and the New Earth and is towards the bottom of our web site at:

http://jwinfoline.com/Page/audio.htm

Lorri says that we are promised that we will be with Jesus where ever he is. If he is on earth, we will be on earth. If he is in heaven, we will be with him in heaven.

1 Thess 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Another former Jehovah's Witness states that we can "inherit the earth" without having to live there. Jesus promises the Kingdom of Heaven to those who are poor in spirit and the gentle will inherit the earth.

Matt 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Mat 5:5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

So the Kingdom of Heaven will be ours and we will inherit the earth. The fact that our new home will be in the New Jerusalem and it will be brought down to earth, shows that in the end there will be interaction between both the New Jerusalem and the new earth.

I have had great success in ministering to JW's and ex-JW's myself having spent 16 years leading a support group for former Jehovah's Witnesses and helping them to unlearn their false doctrine and relearn correct biblical doctrine.

Mike-e said...

Thank you so much! That is very helpful and will certainly check that mp3 out!

Anonymous said...

Cheryl,

Nothing suggests that New Jerusalem is some literal, constructed city that will appear come down to earth. Revelation is a known symbolic book and the description of the city is loaded with symbolism. Further, the dimensions of the city make this absurd. The city symbolizes the church, and so the church resurrected does "come down" to earth.

I have found many to profess that these two will somehow become one, but never is such a thing articulated. The Bible professes that there will be "a new heaven and a new earth," distinctly, not somehow as one. Peter more than anyone confirms they will remain distinct, for in speaking of these to come he maintains a plural pronoun - 2 Peter 3:13.

That the Watchtower maintains (and so, "another former Jehovah's Witness") you can "inherit the earth" without living there is dependent upon the notion that mankind as a whole will live upon the earth so that those in heaven will rule over them. However, the throne scene in Revelation 20 where those of the 1st resurrection rule as kings (something that Paul expresses articulated to the Corinthians that they were not yet doing) is unquestionably earthly, so this is simply not possible. Further I would just note that "the kingdom of heaven" does not mean "the kingdom in heaven," not to say that it cannot be in heaven, for it certainly is, but it is not limited to there. It is simply synonymous with "the kingdom of God."

micheygirl66 said...

What the heck was that?Heaven isn't earth and earth isn't heaven..they are distinct like Jehovah and Jesus are.They also will work in harmony like Jehovah and Jesus do,when blessings will flow from the "New Jerusalem" to the "new earth" to benefit mankind.Again,what was God's original intent?Adam and Eve didn't fly back and forth,nor did the angels,and when angels tried to live with humans,what happened?Jehovah can rule the earth from his heavenly station and still appoint leaders on earth and send messengers if need be.But not to live here.Why would he change his original intents?One is his residence,one is his footstool..they're both glorious,as are uncorrupted flesh(pre-sin) and celestial bodies.No one should complain when assigned either residence :)

Mike-e said...

Thanks for your comment Kellie. I'm curious about your statement, "no one should complain when assigned either residence." Is it your position that there will be Christians in heaven and earth, as the WT would suggest?

Anonymous said...

micheygirl,

I agree that Jehovah had an original intent and that he will fulfill it, but where in that original intent did *anyone* live in heaven? Further, Revelation 20 speaks about thrones and those who sit on them. Contextually, can you show me if that is heavenly or earthly? And further, it speaks of the holy ones being surrounded. Can you explain without unnecessarily symbolizing the text how these are surrounded without being upon the earth?

Thank you

micheygirl66 said...

Mike,yessum.Obviously I think there is a purpose for those going to heaven.(A reward to Jesus for his faithfulness and conquering for one)Prov 8:31,John 17:21,22,24
Anonymous,it BECAME a purpose of Jehovah's when Jesus earned "brethren" to be bought FROM the earth to help him heal,rule, and judge sympathetically,having been "sons of men"(and NOW bestowed with mighty heavenly power!),who better to judge "sons of men",?(heb 2:18,4:15)(1 thes 4:17).Rev 5:10 says they will rule over the earth.The greek word there can mean "on" or "over".The bible says Jesus returned to heaven"once for all time".,"Every eye will see him" in the sense that everyone will certainly discern his presence.,from my understanding anyway.If wanna discuss further,email me.Btw,when I said "what the heck was that?" I was referring to the radio dudes,who seem confused,as we all do.lol

Anonymous said...

micheygirl,

You're not addressing what I actually said. You see, the issue is of God's "original intent." These are your words, which I borrowed and agree with. God originally purposed for man to live on the earth and God's purpose does *not* change. So where will man live? All of man.

Revelation 5:10 tells nothing of location, it tells only of what is ruled "over," regardless of whether they are in heaven or upon the earth. epi denotes what the rule itself is "on," not where those ruling are.

Where do you get that Jesus returned to heaven "for all time?" Hebrews? I can find nothing that speaks of Christ staying in heaven. Revelation 19:11-14 support Christ actually returning. If he didn't go anywhere how did "the armies" follow him? Did that mean they really only watched him do something on earth from heaven?

Another point: Are there grapes or wine in heaven? Not to my knowledge! I'm certain you'll agree with that, yet Jesus says when he returns we will drink the product of the vine (Matthew 26:29). How can he do that without actually coming here?

You did not answer either of my questions from Revelation 20. Can you please respond to them? Thank you.

micheygirl66 said...

Anon,imo you're taking symbolic scriptures literally.when the four horses earlier in revelation galloped about could we see them or just the events taking place that they symbolized?And couldn't perhaps matt 26:29 have something to do with the symbolic wedding and feast that the bride and her bridegroom will have?And aren't Christ's followers called a true vine?I told you you could email me.Won't be answering anything further here.putawaythatmeat@yahoo.com(I'm vegan,not perverted)

Anonymous said...

How is that symbolism? What does being surrounded represent? What does following represent? If it is symbolic it must represent something, so what? Otherwise we must take it literally.

In Matthew Jesus had just given them real wine, what would be the purpose of his comment if he were not speaking of the same thing? What does that symbolism represent?

Are you sure you're not just symbolizing things because they are incompatible with your preconcieved theology? Would it not be better to look at what all the Scriptures say and interpret instead of assuming a doctrine and reading the Bible in light of it?

Mark Hunter said...

@ micheygirl - "Jehovah can rule the earth"

I thought Jesus was King and Lord. Since when does Jehovah rule the earth?